We are thrilled to announce the 2020 recipients of the CSEE Early Career Award: Dr. Diana Rennison and Dr. Denon Start. Dr. Rennison is an Assistant Professor at UC San Diego, where she uses methods from the fields of evolution, ecology, and genomics to investigate the evolution and maintenance of biodiversity (https://rennisonlab.com). Dr. Start is a Fellow in the Center for Population Biology at UC Davis, where his research currently focuses on how traits shape the responses of individuals, populations, species, and whole communities to environmental differences and shifting species interactions (https://denonstart.wordpress.com).
In lieu of giving plenary lectures at the annual meeting, Diana and Denon will give online research talks on Friday, June 5th at 4pm EDT:
Out of respect for the ongoing anti-black racism protests across Canada and the US, the CSEE has decided to postpone its Early Career Award talks to Friday, June 26th at 4pm EDT. Tune in then to see the winners of our Early Career Award give a research talk.
Dr. Denon Start: Uniting alternative models of evolutionary ecology
Dr. Diana Rennison: Uncovering the genetic and ecological underpinnings of parallel adaptation
Thank-you to the awards committee for their effort and care with this process, and for their attention to CSEE’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity. We had an incredible group of applicants for this award. While this made our deliberations difficult, it also filled us with excitement for the future of ecology and evolution research in Canada and beyond.
Early Career Award Talks: Friday June 5th, 4pm EDT
Dr. Diana Rennison
This talk will give an overview of the integrative work I conduct to determine the mechanisms central to the origin and maintenance of the spectacular species diversity we see in the world today. The core questions I seek to address are: How do sources of selection interact to shape the course of evolution and the generation of biodiversity? & Why do organisms follow certain evolutionary trajectories when many are possible? To tackle these questions I integrate population genomics, field collections and experimental estimates of natural selection. I will give an overview of two of my studies which have shed light on these important questions. The first study uses a manipulative selection experiment to test whether evolutionary divergence between species is caused by differential predation. The second study takes a comparative approach to establish what genetic and ecological factors constrain or promote adaptive evolution.
Dr. Denon Start
My research program stems from a simple observation: variation in organismal form spans levels of organization from individuals to species. I address the multi-level nature of biological systems by investigating (1) how the processes generating trait change at different levels of organization structure ecological communities, and (2) how community structure shapes plasticity and evolution. While the eco-evolutionary reciprocity implied by my research has long been recognized, it is only one conceptual model of evolutionary ecology. As an alternative, Hutchinson viewed ecology as a rigid theater un-influenced by density or frequency dependence. Is ecology more like a rigid theater, or is it a flexible actor intertwined with the density and frequency dependence created by evolutionary change? I address this question by investigating the hardness of selection—a metric that helps us interpret how ecology and evolution are linked. I combine surveys, field experiments, literature reviews, and math to show when rather than if ecology acts more like a rigid theater versus a flexible actor.